New Funds Plant Seeds of Growth at East High School

$4 million grant to fuel innovative, student-centered and hands-on experiences


Kansas City, January 27, 2017:  East High School Principal Jeff Spaletta is ready to grow a new culture. Now, thanks to a new grant, his school has the seeds to make that happen.

Mr. Spaletta and his team recently learned that East has been awarded a $4-million School Improvement Grant (SIG) distributed over five years. The money originates with the U.S. Education Department and is funneled through Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to support academic achievement at schools that face significant challenges.

The grant is an ideal opportunity for Spaletta to start making the major improvements he has envisioned since taking the reins at East in August 2016.

“This is going to mean major improvements in teaching and learning at East High School,” Spaletta said. “It’s going to change the culture at this school.”

In concrete terms, Spaletta plans to use the SIG funds to increase the number and quality of training, academic and incentive opportunities for students and staff. That effort will include new technology and the development of “learning academies” for students interested in pursuing careers in business, STEM, health sciences and urban agriculture.

The goal of this initiative is to improve academic achievement by helping students become more engaged in their education. It’s based on Spaletta’s experience watching how students thrive when they are given the chance to learn by doing.

“We’re going to build our capacity to get students engaged across the board,” Spaletta said. “That means more student-centered classes and project-based learning. The more hands-on experiences our students have, the more confident they will become.”

Spaletta credited his team for putting together a well-composed grant application. He also praised the determination of staff members and parents to do whatever it takes to help their students succeed.

“The staff here, they’ve got very high expectations of themselves and each other,” Spaletta said. “We’re also seeing a lot more parent engagement. These things add up to a lot of excitement from the adults in this building, which gets picked up by the students.”

Learn more about the excellent educational opportunities available at East High School by visiting